Caring for place – the work of deantagonizing conflicts by local change agents

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Recently, the importance of the ‘human dimension’ as a transformative factor in revitalizing challenged neighbourhoods is highlighted in European urban regeneration programs. Yet, the role of ‘local change makers’ or what I label as ‘smart urban intermediaries’ (SUIs) acting at the micro level and their practices that lead to social innovation in the neighbourhood remain relatively overlooked. In this paper, I look at how SUIs ‘place-based’ everyday experts act at the micro level play a role in creating a fertile ground for collaborations and manage to turn antagonistic conflicts into agonistic spaces in their neighbourhoods, leading to increased collective institutional action capacity. The empirical foundation of the paper is based on the Danish data form a trans-European study ‘Smart Urban intermediaries – connecting people changing communities’ where we followed 40 practitioners in deprived neighbourhoods across four cities - Amsterdam, Birmingham, Copenhagen and Glasgow.

The paper provides new knowledge on how micro-level practices in form of local conflict work among the many and diverse voices and interests in diverse neighbourhoods holds the potential of catalyzing change, social innovation, and are part of the continuous process of ‘community-making’. The analysis shows that local citizens motivation for local engagement is ‘caring for the places they live’, and that they possess a unique sense of their localities, an expertise that is often over-looked in urban governance interventions. I argue that place-based interventions and area-based initiatives can gain not only better anchored solutions and outreach by drawing on these local everyday expects and by enabling local platforms for collective action for stakeholders in the neighborhood.
Publikationsdato27 okt. 2022
StatusUdgivet - 27 okt. 2022
BegivenhedThe 2022 Urban Research Conference: Conflict and Cohesion - Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norge
Varighed: 27 okt. 202228 okt. 2022


KonferenceThe 2022 Urban Research Conference
LokationOslo Metropolitan University
Andet2022 was the year that cities would recover from the woes of the pandemic and tackle rising social and economic inequality.<br/>Then Putin invaded Ukraine. <br/><br/>Heightened tensions and conflicts threaten cities as arenas for change and continuity at a time when collective actions and policies for a more socially just and sustainable urban future are sorely needed.<br/><br/>How can global and local initiatives sustain and build strong, socially coherent communities?


  • conflicts
  • change-agents
  • area-based initiatives
  • laymen knowledge
  • everyday experts
  • antagonism
  • agonism

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